It was a wonderful inspiring experience. Thank you John Cunningham, Kyle Ozier, and Robbie Davis for an awesome evening! Events like this recharge your batteries and motivate you to continue the volunteerism. You are seriously reminded of why you do what you do.
The Circle of Friends had me in tears as I traced the names and lit votive candles for all those I knew (and I knew about 3/4 of those remembered!). This year, Tom Waddell's name was inscribed along with many other Gay Games people.
There was also a room where the faces of many who passed during those sad years were projected onto all four walls. I managed to get many Gay Games veterans from 1982 and 1988 into this tribute. I used many action shots from the Games that were cropped and they actually dominated the projections. I watched as many people came in and asked who these faces were, and I was so honored and excited to relate their stories... again and again. The job kept me from breaking down, and the people filing through were motivated and moved to know a little something of these young smiling faces cut down in their prime. It was a connection to the early leadership of the Gay Games movement, adding some humanity, some stark realism, and lightening the sombre edge of the memorial.
I included Rick Windes, Carl Martin, Gary Lonien, Don Jung, George Ochoa, Michael Bishop, Pete Runyon, Michael Lott, Steve Swanson, Gary France, Josh Persky, Peter Gomez, Tim Cech, Mike Rio, Jerry Carlson, etc... Mostly wrestlers, with some swimmers, soccer, track, singers, etc.., but all veterans and friends from that magical (and sad) time I can never forget.
More on the Grove:
The National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is a dedicated space in the national landscape where millions of Americans touched directly or indirectly by AIDS can gather to heal, hope, and remember. For all the promising prospects on the horizon, AIDS continues to invade our lives, violate our past, and rob us of our comfortable assumptions about the future. The sacred ground of this living memorial honors all who have confronted this tragic pandemic both those who have died and those who have shared their struggle, kept the vigils, and supported each other during the final hours.
The National AIDS Memorial Grove signifies that the global tragedy of AIDS will never be forgotten.
The National AIDS Memorial Grove is a living tribute to all whose lives have been touched by AIDS. Our mission is to provide a healing sanctuary, to increase awareness of this national treasure, and to promote learning and understanding of the human tragedy of the AIDS pandemic.
The National AIDS Memorial is more than a sentinel to the memory and honor of all who have shared in the struggle against AIDS. From monthly volunteer Workdays to ceremonies and celebrations, there is a lot going on in the Grove.